How to vote
If you are on the electoral register you will be sent a poll card just before an election. You can vote:
- In person
- By post
- By proxy
Voting in person
White poll cards are issued to electors who vote in person at a polling station, and this card will state where your polling station is and when you can vote. On the day of the election you should go to your designated polling station between 7am and 10pm to cast your vote. Tell the staff inside the polling station your name and address so that they can check you are on the register and eligible to vote. It is helpful to bring along your poll card but it is not essential if you don’t bring it along.
Voter Authority Certificates and Anonymous Elector Documents
The Elections Act 2022 has introduced a new requirement for voters to show photo identification before voting in person in a polling station.
From Thursday 4 May 2023, voters in Scotland will need to show photo ID in some elections, namely UK Parliamentary by-elections and recall petitions. From October 2023 it will also apply to UK General elections. If you have a postal vote, there is no need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate. Identification is only required if you intend to vote in person at a polling station. If you are a registered postal voter and wish instead to vote in person, you will need to cancel your postal vote before you can vote in person at a polling station. Further information on how to cancel your postal vote can be found here.
If you don’t have any acceptable photo ID, you can apply for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Certificate. A list of acceptable photo ID can be found on the Electoral Commission’s website. Expired identification can be used as long as you are still recognisable from your photo.
You can apply for a certificate here or alternatively, we can arrange to send a paper application form to you. Application forms are also available in large print, braille or easy read format. Please let us know if you require a form in one of these formats. We can accept e-mail photos, however, please note that we are unable to accept e-mails that are larger than 50mb (51200kB).
We can also arrange for you to make an application at one of our offices. Please e-mail us at [email protected] or call us on 0800 393 783 to make an appointment or to request a paper application form.
Voter Authority Certificates will be posted to your address on your application. Certificates will only be available for in-person collection where a specified reason is given.
Anonymous electors wishing to vote in person will need to produce an Anonymous Elector’s Document as their photographic ID. Anonymous electors cannot use other forms of photographic ID. Anonymous electors will still also be required to produce their poll card when voting in person or signing a petition. The Electoral Registration Officer will notify any anonymous electors of the need to apply for an Anonymous Elector’s Document when they are due to renew their registration.
An easy read guide on anonymous elector’s documents can be found here.
Further information on applying for a Voter Authority Certificate can be found here or by scanning the QR code below:
Voters in Scotland will not need to show photo ID at Scottish Parliament elections or at council elections.
Uses of a Voter Authority Certificate
The Voter Authority Certificate will be for use solely for the purpose of voting in person at a polling station and it not intended as either an identity document or a proof of age document.
Voting by post or proxy
Applying to vote by post
- Download and print your own form
If you want to vote by post an application form is available to download and print here.
You must complete the application form in full using black ink, providing your signature and date of birth. This information is needed to prevent fraud. Special arrangements are in place if you’re unable to provide a signature. Please call us on 0800 393 783 for further details. If you have chosen to vote by post you will receive a lilac poll card.
If you would prefer, you can return the completed application form to any of our offices by post or by email to [email protected] – we can only accept black & white clear scanned images under 50MB (51200kB). Contact details can be found here
Royal Mail Priority Post Boxes
Royal Mail has 35,000 priority post boxes. These post boxes have late collection times and in many cases will also have earlier collection times. To find a priority post box in your area please click on the link below:
- Request a paper application to vote by post
If you are unable to download the application form, a postal vote can be posted to your home address or any other address specified by you, including overseas. For a paper form please call us on 0800 393 783 or email us at [email protected]
IMPORTANT: You will need to consider if there would be time for you to receive and return your ballot papers by polling day. If you have been sent a postal vote, you cannot vote in person at a polling station.
Cancelling your postal vote
If you wish to cancel your postal vote, we will require a letter from you with a penned signature asking for this to be carried out. During an election period, postal votes can be cancelled up to 11 working days before the poll.
Applying to vote by proxy
You can also arrange to vote by proxy at a particular election or referendum, meaning another person is authorised to vote on your behalf. A signature and date of birth are also required for proxy voters.
Alternatively call us on 0800 393 783 to request a paper application form to be posted to you.
In some circumstances, an emergency proxy may be granted by the Electoral Registration Officer if you are unable to vote in person due to the following:
- In the case of a medical condition, illness or disability arising after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications
- Are a mental health patient detained under civil powers
- If your occupation, service or employment means you cannot go to the polling station in person and you only become aware of this after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications
- For Scottish local council elections, an elector may be able to change their proxy if their appointed proxy’s circumstances have changed and they cannot reasonably be expected to vote at the polling station.
- If you are a Scottish prisoner serving a sentence of 12 months of less (Scottish Parliament and Scottish Local Government elections only)
- If you meet any of the conditions relating to emergency proxies on the grounds of voter identification after the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate or Anonymous Elector’s Document at UK parliamentary by-elections from 4 May 2023.
- If the photo ID that you intended to use at a UK Parliamentary General election becomes unavailable after 5pm, on the sixth working day before the election and you don’t have any other form of acceptable photo ID that you can use
Both you and your proxy must be registered and eligible to vote.
The deadline for ordinary proxy applications is 5pm, on the sixth working day before the poll. For an emergency proxy you can apply up until 5pm on the day of the poll.
Further information on emergency proxies can be found on the Electoral Commission’s website
Application forms for emergency proxies can be found in our list of applications below. Details of how to return your form can be found on the notes pages of the application forms.
If you have a learning disability, you can follow the step-by-step easy read guide on how to register to vote online.
View our full list of application forms
- Application to vote by post
- Application to vote by proxy at a particular election or referendum
- Application to vote by proxy for Crown Servants and British Council employees
- Application to vote by proxy for a British citizen living overseas
- Application to vote by proxy for a member of the armed forces
- Application to vote by proxy for anonymous electors
- Application to vote by proxy based on disability
- Application to vote by proxy due to attendance on an educational course
- Application to vote by proxy due to employment
- Application by a proxy to vote by post
- Application to change an existing proxy at a Scottish Council election
- Application to vote by emergency proxy in Scotland based on disability
- Application to vote by emergency proxy based on disability (other elections)
- Application to vote by emergency proxy (occupation, service or employment)
- Application to vote by emergency proxy based on imprisonment in Scotland
- Application to vote by emergency proxy based on photo ID
- Opt out form